David: One word: Kilt! Let me provide a warning here: spoilers abound.
Ryan: That was quite a finale we saw Sunday night. I know other commentators have already mentioned this, but it bears repeating; that opening score was fantastic. It added such weight to the consequential beginning scenes. Beinhoff and Weiss have been going “off script” this season having surpassed the bulk of George RR Martin’s source material. This was an especially exciting season for that reason alone. So much of season 6 has been set-up for the events that played out in the finale. Episode 10 felt important throughout. Nearly every scene radiated with significance. This was one of the most powerful season finales of any series I’ve seen in recent memory. Were you equally impressed with “The Winds of Winter”?
David: I whole-heartedly agree with you. I’m really glad that you brought up that opening score. I can’t think of anytime that I have been held so entranced by opening piano music, when people are simply getting dressed on screen. It was something that built up to the moments that followed and truly set the tone for the entire episode.
I also agree that this episode had more significance than almost any other that we have seen on GOT. One of the things that I brought up in our initial verbal discussion regarding this episode was that it seemed like every major character had some moments - but unlike other episodes, everything had a reason for being shown. The transitions between the different locations were the best that we’ve seen, with the best example being the Lyanna and Eddard to Jon Snow (the implications of which I’m sure we will touch on in a bit). The only place I felt the transitions seemed a bit forced were with Bran, and I can’t really fault the show-runners for this: Bran has been off for so long on his own that after Hodor’s death, I can’t really say I care much for him.
We saw a lot of deaths (and in one case, a dismissal) in this episode. What do you think are the reasonings for the different deaths, and the implications for future episodes now that these characters are gone?
Ryan: We said goodbye to many characters in episode 10. With one fell swoop Cersei orchestrated the death of the Tyrells, the High Sparrow and his flock, and Maester Pycell. She also captured Unella, the septa who enjoyed tormenting Cersei back in season 5. Looks like she’s in for a fate worse than death, as the artist formerly known as Gregor Clegane, is her new keeper. I think she will find out why they call him “The Mountain that Rides”. Poor Tommen, though. He spent the last years of his life being manipulated by the women closest to him. The shot of Tommen taking his own life was akin to the suicide portrayed in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia. In this episode we also said goodbye to Walder Frey, the worst host in Westeros. Arya Stark, magically traveled back to the riverlands in one episode’s time.
All these deaths are helping the show-runners narrow the show’s focus for the final stretch. Plot wise, the biggest implication of the murder packed episode is that Cersei Lannister is now queen. What a bad ass dress/armor thingy she was wearing, by the way. While Cersei has lost the last of her children, she regained her power. Sipping what I assume to be a vintage Dornish Malbec, Cersi watched The Great Sept of Baelor burn. She is back to being a big time player. How do you think that will shape the final two seasons?
David: I think the finale is a good example of how to clean out unnecessary characters. Were most of the Tyrells really doing anything? No. I’ll miss Maergery because she was another strong woman on the show, but when you consider what she really is (a foil to Cersei) you don’t really need her anymore. The Sparrows were a nice distraction, but we need the Walkers to make appearances and we’ll soon have battles between Dany’s Dothraki/Unsullied and everyone else. Has Maester Pycell really done anything lately? Not really. Plus, with Sam’s storyline, we are about to be flooded with a bunch of Maester names that we can’t pronounce, so we needed to get rid of him.
I will touch a bit more on a couple of the other deaths that you talked about. First, Tommen. Frankly, I hated that sniveling little shit. I hated him more than Joffrey. At least Joffrey was easy to wrap your head around - he was the bad guy of the show. Tommen was just a useless little boy being manipulated, as you said, by the women closest in his life. Unfortunately, this is a troupe that has happened many times throughout history, so it’s really not out of place. He took what is obviously a coward’s way out, but I can’t say I really blame him. What else would really be left for him but more of the same?
Another is the death of Walter Frey, after a great back and forth with Jaime Lannister. Here is where I’m going to stand on my soap box - Maisie Williams is the best performer on this show. Despite frequently getting shafted by the story, and just the writers in general, she has quietly given one of the best transformation performances that I have ever seen. Just the look on her face as she slit Frey’s throat was mesmerizing, terrifying, and altogether unnerving. And that is after she straight Sweeney Todd’ed him! If there is any justice in the world, this girl should start winning awards in some way shape or fashion. Note: I completely agree with you, the show-runners completely dropped the ball with her magical travel. It’s something that is happening more and more.
Finally, we come to Unella. Wow. On a show that has been criticized again and again for featuring scenes of rape, they sure seem to be pushing on with it don’t they? Truth be told, at least this one is being orchestrated by a powerful woman as a punishment for previous treatment, but still. Cersei in this scene was positively horrifying (Shame...Shame…*shiver*) and in fact, she was the whole episode (I do agree, that outfit was fabulous - kudos go to costume design). Even the last lingering shot on Jaime’s face shows that he is a bit scared of her, and he should be. Anyone capable of mass murder is not to be trusted.
I think that the events of this finale have shaped Cersei into one of the final human adversaries on the show. With the elimination of Ramsay last week, the show needed to give audiences someone to hate. Cersei fits in nicely there because she has played that role before in the beginning seasons.
Let’s talk about R+L = J, which finally came to fruition this week. What do you think will come out of Bran’s vision?
Ryan: “Shame… Shame…” That was truly wicked. But yeah, let’s talk about the big “reveal”. I’m not sure how long the R+L = J theory has been out there, but it was such a sound theory with the show giving all signs to its validity, that there really was no big surprise here for the audience. It was certainly satisfying to finally see the confirmation, though. For the few of you that may not be familiar with what we’re talking about here, it was revealed that Jon Snow is the son of Lyanna Stark (Ned’s sister) and Rhaegar Targaryen (eldest son of The Mad King, Aerys II Targaryen and brother to Daenerys). Ned Stark, once the noblest man of Westeros, falsely confessed to fathering Jon Snow, keeping a promise to his dying sister. You see, Robert Baratheon became king only after completing “Robert’s Rebellion”. Lyanna was betrothed to Robert once upon a time, only to find her whisked away by Mr. Renaissance himself, Rhaegar Targaryen. Now we don’t know yet if he kidnapped her or they eloped together, but Robert certainly assumed the former. As close as Robert and Ned were, I don’t think King Baratheon would have spared a known threat to his claim of the throne. Claiming Jon as his own was the only way for Ned to protect baby Snow.
So Jon (Targaryen?) has Stark and Dragon blood. We can only assume that this means he’s The One! How’d you enjoy the theory conformation? Can we expect to see new powers from Jon?
David: Personally, I want to see Jon ride an Ice Dragon. It’s something that Jon mentions stories of in the books, but I can’t recall if it was actually mentioned in Season One or not. Either way, I think it’s fairly obvious now where “A Song of Ice and Fire” comes from. It’s Jon himself, which explains why Melisandre was able to bring him back.
I guess it makes sense to give Bran something to do up there beyond the Wall, but I would have preferred that Sam be the one to discover Jon’s origin. And maybe he still will be the one that finds concrete evidence in the form of a written record somewhere. Bran is only having visions, after all, and so therefore it would be easy to dismiss him as a crazy child, despite his warging ability. I thought the idea of the vision was well constructed though, and as I said before, the transitional cut to Jon’s face was perfect. I think they will probably have to spell it out a bit more for everyone to understand that may not be as versed in Fan Theory 101, though.
Let’s finish with some talk about Dany and all that is going on there. After she unceremoniously dumps Daario, (and then admits she doesn’t even feel bad!), there is a moment before Tyrion is named Hand to the Queen. Tyrion is explaining that there will be many men to love her, and the camera stops and lingers on Peter Dinklage’s bearded visage. His eyes seem watery and are filled with longing. Are we setting up for ANOTHER person to be in love with her? I think it would make for some interesting storytelling, I just don’t think they have time to tell it.
As I mentioned before in my Arya paragraph, the showrunners don’t really care anymore how people get places. We see Varys in Dorne, the next time we see him, he’s in Mereen on a ship headed to Westeros with Tyrion and Dany. This laziness is something that was nonexistent in Game of Thrones’s opening seasons (with all the walking Arya and the Hound did, with the journey of Jon back and forth past the Wall, etc). Now people magic around from place to place, and it’s annoying. I get the feeling that they are trying to get to the wrap-ups, and the only way to do so is to get everyone in Westeros.
What do you think of this Ryan?
Ryan: Yep, the quick travel times, as you mentioned, are a stark (no pun intended) contrast to the trudging journeys of seasons past. How bout some middle ground, Beinhoff? Back to The Mother of Dragons. I didn’t pick up on the “I love you” vibe from Tyrion. I think he is partly overwhelmed with just being named Hand to the Queen. Tyrion is the most interesting character of the series. He was a fortunate man to have been born a wealthy Lannister, yet he lost his mother in childbirth. Although Tyrion’s father was one of the most powerful men in Westeros, Tywin despised his imp of a son. Despite all this, Tyrion managed to rise to prominence as Hand of the King. As we all know, Tyrion is later blamed for the murder of King Joffrey and barely escapes with his life. He’s forced into exile in Estoros, traveling like a beggar. The look I saw in Tyrion’s eye Sunday night, was the look of a man who had risen again. He believes in Danny and he’s committed. And you know what? I think the fans are committed to following this story to it’s end. (Sorry for the cheese)
Thanks everyone for reading. David and I will be back next week with predictions for next season.
David and Shannon write about movies.